WHAT IS SIN?
The world today would like to get rid of the idea of sin. If society was to accept sin as a reality, it would have to believe that there is a divine law that is above human law which differentiates between right and wrong. And if there is a divine law, then there must be a divine law giver, who is God. Most people agree that crimes like murder are wrong but they don’t accept that all sins are wrong. That is what society wants us to think because if it accepted that sin really exists, then it would have to accept the existence of the devil and in that case God must exist too. But the world cannot do that, so it ignores the reality of sin which is described as “intrinsically and gravely disordered actions” (CCC 2352) and passes them off under the false guise of “human freedom”. The Church teaches that sin does exist. It is an offense against God, rising up against Him in pride and thinking that we know better than God what is good for us. It is the exact opposite of the obedience of Jesus, who achieved our salvation.
CONSEQUENCE FOR US
Any sin we commit has a direct effect on us. When we give in to temptation or greed we have to actually silence the voice within us that says, “Don’t do it” and ignore our conscience, which I now understand to be the voice of the Holy Spirit. When we sin there is a transient pleasure and joy, but after the act we always regret it. Some sins can become so habitual that they control our lives and become addictions, like drinking alcohol, smoking or looking at pornography. That’s because the more we commit a sin, the more we feel useless, worthless and helpless and then it is easier to supress our conscience and sin again. In Genesis chapter 3, after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God and committed the first sin they hid themselves from the Lord because they were afraid and full of shame. Sin causes fear, shame and guilt and we want to hide it. I remember when I was addicted to a very personal sin, I knew that what I was doing was wrong and afterwards I felt miserable and ashamed but I could not stop it. It started quite innocently once in a while and then what was infrequent suddenly became more frequent. I found myself falling deeper and deeper and looking back, I can say that I actually became quite reliant on it.
Another major consequence of sin is the strain on our relationships. Each time we sin we are devaluing ourselves and so we will feel inferior to those around us which makes us frustrated, and angry with those who love us. When we are ashamed of our sins we try to hide them from our parents and our friends, in case they find out. We might feel that our parents don’t understand what we are going through, but it is because we aren’t being truthful or honest about ourselves. I remember feeling very lonely and separated from everything. I became more reclusive and just wanted to be left alone most of the time.
THE GOOD NEWS
When we have problems with sin, it is not that no one understands us, the main issue is our relationship with God. Only when we are right with God can we appreciate and love our family and friends and be open and honest with them. The good news for us all is that we can be freed from our addictions to sin and our relationships can be healed. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for us. He paid the price for our sins so that we can be forgiven and cleansed in His blood. When we are truly sorry and want to make a fresh start the Church offers the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we repent of our sins in Confession, we regain control of our lives and the strength to fight against sin. When we turn back to Him and dwell in His presence then God, who loves us, will work miracles is us and make us instruments of His love. After all, Christ died on the cross with His arms nailed open wide so that He could receive us eternally. And just as the prodigal son returned to his father, we too are able to return to our Lord through Christ Jesus who washes us clean and makes us new in Him.
Written by Jerry Thomas